WILLIE Mullins has sounded a cautious note about a potential Stan James Champion Hurdle bid for the exciting Un De Sceaux.
The unbeaten six-year-old has won his five Irish starts by an aggregate of 117 lengths, and made all in the Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran Park on Saturday.
Speaking at Navan yesterday, Mullins said: “He’s good, he came out of the race fine. It took a fair bit out of him, people think it is easy but galloping two miles in that soft ground still takes a fair bit out of them.”
Asked about Cheltenham, for which Un De Sceaux is as short as 8-1 with bet365 and Ladbrokes, Mullins said: “I just wonder if he needs that at this time in his career, taking on those fantastic horses. Obviously he is hugely talented for the future, we were happy to keep him under the radar and that’s where I’d like to keep him.”
Many Clouds is also still on target for Cheltenham despite suffering defeat in the RSA Trial (Reynoldstown) Novices’ Chase at Ascot on Saturday.
Trevor Hemmings’ gelding has looked a bright prospect over fences this season, winning well at Wetherby and Carlisle, and for much of the way in the Grade Two event it looked to be between him and Gevrey Chambertin.
But David Pipe’s grey ran out of steam and Many Clouds was picked off by O’Faolains Boy close home.
Trainer Oliver Sherwood said: “I was delighted, without winning. He’s A1 today, not a bother on him.
“He jumped fantastically, the best I’ve seen him, and I don’t know whether he and Gevrey set it up for the other horse a bit, but I was still delighted. I’d imagine he’ll go for the RSA – he has given 4lb to the winner there so deserves his place – but I haven’t yet spoken to Trevor or his racing manager, Mick Meagher, to see what they want to do.”
Many Clouds can still be backed at 20-1 for the Cheltenham race.
Meanwhile, in today’s action, Swiss Cross looks like the one to back at Wolverhmapton.
He made light of a lengthy absence when winning at the track at the start of the month and he can go in again in the Compare Bookmakers At bookmakers.co.uk Handicap. Connections of the seven-year-old are keen to get their charge qualified for the bumper all-weather finals day on Good Friday and another run here ticks a box on the eligibility scale.
Fomerly trained by Gerard Butler, Swiss Cross is now in the care of Phil McEntee and he made an excellent start for the yard when winning over course and distance on his first outing since last May.
He has clearly had his problems but there could be no arguing with his comfortable length-and-a-half victory over Muhdiq in what was a similarly competitive event to this.
Rated 103 in his pomp, Swiss Cross was lining up off a mark of 94 that day and the handicapper clearly felt he had been a touch generous as he has whacked him up 5lb in the ratings subsequently.
Despite his increased burden, Swiss Cross still appeals as a well-handicapped runner who is clearly returning to form.
Munaawib should give his supporters a good run for their money in the Ladbrokes Handicap.
The six-year-old has been in fair form this winter, winning three times since November, most recently when a three-and-a-quarter-length victor over this seven-furlong track. Everything panned out in his favour that day as he was allowed an uncontested lead and Munaawib took full advantage. He might not be allowed such an easy time up front this time and he also has to contend with an increased mark of 67 but, given his excellent recent run of form, Munaawib is not to dismiss lightly.
Attain took a fair while to get his head in front but his confidence should be riding high in the coral.co.uk Best Odds Guaranteed On Racing Handicap.
Julia Feilden’s charge had failed to hit the mark in 23 previous starts before ending his barren run in style with a six-length verdict at this track.
Tomorrow’s National Hunt meeting at Taunton was subject to a 9am inspection this morning due to the threat of waterlogging.
The going had been described as heavy, waterlogged in places. More rain was forecast for today.